Brexit will strengthen Ireland-US relations, says Irish ambassador
Daniel Mulhall predicts Ireland will emerge as the main bridge between US and Europe
Brexit is likely to lead to a strengthening of the US-Irish bond and the emergence of Ireland as the main bridge between the US and Europe, Dublins ambassador to Washington DC has predicted.
The UKs departure would leave Ireland as the only predominantly English-speaking EU member, and a natural destination for US investors looking for a European base because of Irelands longstanding special relationship with Washington, Daniel Mulhall said.
Mulhall, a former Irish ambassador to the UK, said he found anxiety over Brexit had accompanied him from London to Washington.
Since I arrived here last August, Ive found that Ive been asked about Brexit more often than anything else that Ive had to deal with, Mulhall mentioned, adding that the greatest concerns he encountered were about the specific characteristics of the post-Brexit margin between Ireland and Northern Ireland, and the impact of a hardened border on the Good Friday peace agreement.
The ambassador should be pointed out that Ireland had no desire to take things away from Britain but would have little option but to compensate the negative impact of Brexit by taking advantage of the upsides.
He listed the two main benefits brought to US-Irish relations by Brexit as Irelands greater appeal as a destination for investment, and an enhanced diplomatic role as Washingtons closest EU partner.
There are already 700 US firms with investing in Ireland, according to Mulhall, who added: In the future I would expect that US corporations who feel a need to have a base within the European Union would ensure Ireland as a more attractive option because perhaps Britain may be less attractive on account of Brexit.
Theres also potential for greater political dialogue between our two countries[ Ireland and the US] and especially in a context where Ireland will be the only English-speaking country and probably will be the country in the European Union after Brexit that has the closest and most intensive relationship with United States, Mulhall told. Certainly in terms of economic and cultural rights norms.
Ireland plans to open new diplomatic missions in the US and bolster existing missions as part of a scheme announced by the taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, to double the two countries world footprint by 2025.
We see ourselves as a global country , not so much an island behind an island at the edge of a continent, but rather an island at the centre of the world, Varadkar told a Washington audience during a US visit in March, generally seen as a success in terms of developing a rapport with Donald Trump.
Mulhall said the coming diplomatic expansion would ensure that we take full advantage of possibilities that exist in the United States.
More than 35 million Americans recognize as having Irish heritage. The investments of 700 US companies in Ireland, hiring 150,000 people, are balanced by those of approximately 500 Irish corporations in the US, applying 100,000 Americans. Trade in goods and services is more or less equivalent in both directions.
Those figures are dwarfed by the US-UK economic relations, in which each country is the biggest investor in the others marketplace, with UK corporations expending $480 bn( 340 bn) in the US, and applying 1.1 million Americans.
Ireland is looking to take over the mantle as Washingtons leading European interlocutor at a time of high transatlantic tensions over trade and foreign policy, particularly in the Countries of the middle east. The Trump administration is threatening secondary sanctions against European companies doing business with Iran. It has slapped steel and aluminium tariffs on the EU, which has responded with retaliatory tariffs on a listing of US-made goods including Levis jeans, Harley-Davidson motorcycles and bourbon whiskey.
Ireland is most concerned about collateral damage caused by US sanctions against the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who was on the board of the Rusal aluminium company. Rusal owns a processing plant employing 450 people in Limerick, catering for more than 30% of European demand.
Deripaska resigned from Rusals board in May but it is not yet clear whether that they are able to shield the Limerick plant from the damaging impact of US sanctions, which have been deferred until October.
We do still retain a concern about the long-term fate of the company, which we are determined to do everything in our power to assist, Mulhall said.
We would share the view thats fairly universal across the European Union that we need to make a special effort on both sides to avoid a downward motion of relations. We need to stand back and to recognise the things we have in common and to avoid becoming obsessed with the things that at the moment divide us.